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Kin Khao - Thai-style Thai in SF

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"I want to open a really good Thai restaurant—the kind of Thai restaurant that I want to eat at.”—Pim "Chez Pim" Techamuanvivit

http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

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  1. Wow. i hope they have a version of Khao Soi on the menu. i am scared to imagine what the prices may be with the location and crew she has involved, but i am looking forward to trying it.

    9 Replies
    1. re: jupiter

      The first time I had kao soy was the dish she made for the chowing with the hounds picnic some years ago in Golden Gate Park. So yeah, I hope it's on the menu.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Melanie, we will definitely have Khao Soi on the menu. The protein in it may change every so often, but there will always be one. I love it so much, too.

        1. re: Pim

          I didn't see Khao Soi on the sample menu - or did I miss it?

          1. re: farmersdaughter

            Here's Pim's instagram of the khao soi
            http://instagram.com/p/kiIAgTKPwm/#

            Opens softly this week.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Wow, thanks for sharing. That looks delicious. Can't wait for the restaurant to open.

              1. re: farmersdaughter

                Soft opening is tomorrow, Wednesday, February 19.

                P.S. Glad to see your name on the board again.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  How does the soft opening work? Unannounced but otherwise open to the public, or via invitation only?

                  1. re: mikeh

                    Invitation only is usually called friends & family. Soft opening usually means you open to the public with no formal announcement or effort to publicize it.

                    1. re: mikeh

                      Hmm, to me soft opening means open to the public, whereas "friends and family" would be invitation only. I had been told that tomorrow was the soft opening. So I called the restaurant (415-362-7456) now to try to get a quick answer on the opening date. The male voice said that it's opening to the public on Friday. Then I asked if Wednesday was for friends and family, and he said, yes.

                      Tablehopper (Feb 4, 2014) had previously reported that soft opening would be around Feb 17-18 and to stay tuned for the exact date.
                      http://www.tablehopper.com/chatterbox...

                      P. S. Missed you too!

      2. I'm certainly of fan of her (old) blog and her generosity at sharing recipes :)
        Just wish she had chosen a location that is more accessible to those of us who don't live in the city and maybe less pricey location, but certainly looking forward to hearing reports when this opens!

        6 Replies
        1. re: estnet

          It's two blocks from a BART station -- seems pretty accessible to me.

          1. re: estnet

            I don't know how it could be much more accessible to people who don't live in SF.

            Smooth Thai is much cheaper than the average Thai place:

            http://smooththaisf.com/menu/

            Presumably Kin Khao will have to charge more because they'll be using better ingredients and more labor.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Wow this is a tough crowd :( Some of us don't have BART!

              But the real issue is that I think we are all looking forward to Pim's venture and are anxious to sample to food! Anxiously awaiting opening date.

              1. re: estnet

                What would be more accessible to you?

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                One is certainly not going to flaunt Manresa caché and bring in designer-label cocktail crafters and charge Tenderloin prices.

              3. re: estnet

                estnet,

                We are actually quite easily accessible. There are a lot of parking options around the area. The best and cheapest one is the lot on Mission st. between 4th and 5th. If you're coming in from South of the city, you get off the freeway then come up 5th st., then you're pretty much there.

                From the lot, you walk 1 block up to Market street, cross Market and we're less than a block away.

                We will also have valet parking, but it will be limited to just 2 hours.

                Hope this helps,
                Pim

                P.S. Thanks for the nice words about the (old) blog. cheers!

              4. For me this is the most exciting news in a very long time.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Thomas Nash

                  Very cool indeed. Thanks for the link to that article too. I can't seem to get in the habit of going on line to read the full articles (!). Interesting too that there is to be a third Lers Ros, this one in the Mission.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    Thought you'd want to see this photo of a test batch of Sai Ua:
                    http://instagram.com/p/fjB4FTKP0v/

                2. Getting closer to opening, the website just went live. Here's the sample menu:
                  http://kinkhao.com/food/

                  55 Cyril Magnin St.
                  San Francisco, CA 94102
                  (415) 362-7456

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Looks yummy, I'm surprised there aren't more chicken dishes besides the wings & Khao mun gai (chicken fat rice), but that's my preference, I like laap gai.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      That's the most exciting menu I've seen in a while.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I guess I'm the only one slightly annoyed at the "tweeness" of the menu - and surprised that as a writer (or former writer?), the owner would have so many grammatical errors on the menu.

                      2. re: Melanie Wong

                        Yeah, this looks amazing.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Site now says opening February 2014.

                        2. Permit to operate issued.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            Excellent.

                            1. re: dml

                              Did not clock how close this is to Union Square, a boon for us touristy types :-). Top of the list for sure, especially for the SO coming in on business.

                              1. re: grayelf

                                the full name of the hotel complex containing the restaurant is Parc 55 Wyndham Union Sq., three short blocks from the actual square and very close to the Powell St. bart.

                                1. re: moto

                                  Thanks -- the hotel came up when I googled the address, so that explains it.

                          2. Tablehopper says opening for lunch on Friday, Feb 21.
                            http://www.tablehopper.com/chatterbox...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              Announcement this morning that Kin Khao will be open for dinner today. No lunch service until Monday. They're working on replenishing the housemade chili jam and curry pastes. Friends and family depleted the larder.

                            2. So much for soft openings:

                              http://www.sfgate.com/restaurants/art...

                              http://sf.eater.com/archives/2014/02/...

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                soft opening was wed/thurs, real opening was last night.

                                i went.

                                as others have noted, it's hard to find, as the entrance isn't really on cyril magnum.

                                the flavor profiles are spot-on. no concessions here to american palates (not that i'm surprised). that being said, that would seem to be out of place at a hotel restaurant in a touristy area, as i can't imagine many tourists/hotel guests are looking for that type of stuff.

                                what is not spot-on is the pricing/portions. we got a caramelized pork belly dish for $16 which was absolutely incredible, but it consisted of five tiny one-inch squares. same with the octopus dish, very meager portion for $16 or $18 (the menu on the website is different from what we had last night). was perfectly cooked and spicy though. also got an excellent vegetable curry, which was a bit more adequately portioned for the $18 pricing.

                                to be fair, every table gets complimentary jasmine rice (which is really good), which is probably built into the pricing a bit, but it's still quite a bit off - this probably has something to do with the high-rent location.

                                dessert was a black rice pudding, which was excellent.

                                cocktails were good, though the iced coffee (non-alcoholic) was a bit water-y.

                                i realize it was their first night and that they'll probably be playing around a lot with pricing/portions in the next few weeks, so i'm sure i'll be back, as this really is some of the most exciting thai cooking going on anywhere. at this point though, it'd be cheaper to BART to and eat at hawker fare in oakland, and i'd be more full.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Went last night on the first official dinner service. I don't usually hit a restaurant on opening day, but I was meeting friends after a long time and knew all of them would be up for the adventure. In short, we were all very impressed. Tip: enter the hotel at the Ellis and Mason corner entrance to walk directly into the restaurant instead of bumbling through the hotel.

                                  I stopped in around 5:45 to check on seating since there was a group of 4 of us. I put my name down just in case and came back in half an hour and tried some cocktails with two other friends that arrived.

                                  The cocktail program is fabulous. I'm a big fan of Bon Vivants' cocktails at Trick Dog, but sometimes they are borderline too out there. The drinks here were more balanced and veer towards the sweeter, fruitier side to complement the Thai food. Over the course of the night we had the Priew Wan Sour (fun, fruity, refreshing), the Hua Hin Beach (creamy, tropical, like a pina colada), Rasa Umami (drier, very round flavor), the Kafe Mao (like a spiked Thai iced coffee), and the Samunprai julep (very tasty, but not as herbacious as I would have hoped). All cocktails are $12 (like Trick Dog), other non-alcoholic drinks, beer and wine are available.

                                  We were instructed to order everything at once and the chef would bring out "courses" depending on firing times and what he felt worked well together.

                                  The Mushroom Mok with rice crackers and the Pretty Hot Wings were the first to arrive. The mok was presented in a flip -top canning jar with the requisite kaffir lime slivers and coconut cream on top. The consistency was not the custard/mousse I expected, but the more of a very thick curry. Not sure if this was intentional since the hor mok usually benefits from the fish as a binder. The flavors were spot on though. The mushrooms were firm and flavorful, and perfect on the fresh rice crackers. It was clear the spice is not tamed for timid palates, so be prepared for assertive spiciness. The vegetarian member of the group was very pleased and happy by this dish.

                                  The wings were good, lightly fried and the glaze was not as sticky as I presumed they would be (a lot less so than, say, Pok Pok's wings). Three whole wings came with the order. The fish sauce flavor was pronounced and they were medium spicy but sprinkled liberally with minced Thai bird chilies that really brought on the spice. These are eat-with-your hands type of wings. Hot towels and lemon slices were brought out mid-wing eating to clean off our faces and hands, which was a great touch.

                                  Next up was the Yum Yai salad with chili jam dressing. This was a mixture of tempura fried vegetables (think of a Thai fried watercress , but with a finer and crunchier fry) such as kabocha squash, shavings of raw asparagus, mandoline sliced radish, and tender little gem leaves. Fabulous texture and flavor contrast. The chili jam dressing was great, but could have been better distributed, so it's ok to toss the components despite how beautiful it looks when it arrives.

                                  A bowl of Chili Jam Clams arrived that delivered perfectly steamed, meaty cherrystone clams lashed with a chili infused clam juice. They were not sitting in broth as I imaged, but in a shallow puddle of bright red sauce. Very well cooked and an excellent sharing dish for the table. Complimentary rice comes with the food, we opted for the Thai brown rice.

                                  The Khao Soi arrived with the usual accoutrements of sliced shallot, fried chili, Pim's chili paste, pickled greens, and a lime wedge. We opted for the Hodo soy tofu version (fried cubes/puffs) instead of chicken. It was an excellent execution of a dish that is baffling difficult to find--coconut creaminess balanced by a fried chili and shallot-dominant curry paste flavor. The egg noodles were chewy and well cooked and the fried noodles stayed crisp until we reached the bottom of the bowl.

                                  Kua Kling pork riblets arrived that were in a dry curry paste that exploded with flavors of kaffir lime and chili. They were a tad too salty, but I could imagine eating them with sticky rice and cold beer. The meat was pull apart tender and the pieces were nicely sized to maximize surface area. Also a good sharing dish.

                                  Finally we had the Gaeng Som Sour Curry, the most delicately flavored dish of the evening. The broth was clean and tasted of tamarind. Cauliflower, potatoes, and kabocha soaked up the broth while an omelette with greens lay on top. If anything the omelette got overcooked over the hot broth. I'll admit by the time I ate this dish my taste buds were a bit shocked so this dish seemed very muted. I would need to try this again on its own or early in the meal.

                                  All in all, I was impressed by how smooth everything seemed on the first official dinner service. The food is certainly a welcome addition to San Francisco, combining assertive and authentic flavors with the execution of well trained chefs. Even including the seven $12 cocktails amongst the four of us, the bill came out to less than $50 per person before tip, so the prices were quite reasonable for the quality. Family style probably the best way to go in terms of portions; we were stuffed and we didn't quite finish everything. The only hiccups were that we had to remind our server for rice, and there were some mix-ups when swiping our credit cards. Pim walked around and chatted with folks, and I never detected any frenetic activity. I didn't see anyone caught waiting last night. So if you are wary of going while kinks are being worked out, don't be. Take advantage of the lighter crowds. I'm looking forward to coming back often, and especially as the seasons change and the menu evolves.

                                   
                                   
                                   
                                  1. re: oniontears

                                    I am there now Sat 5:30. If any chowhounders are there say hi I am wearing a t-shirt with a drawing of an owl. Will report on the food later.

                                    1. re: Ridge

                                      We really enjoyed Kin Khao. I would agree with other posters that it's pricy for Thai food. But the food was very good. The room was very nice, very clean atmosphere yet warm. The service was very good. Pim, the proprietor was walking around and chatting with people. She was very warm and very enthusiastic. We bumped into Melanie and she was nice enough to let us sample some of her food as well.

                                      Here is what we consumed:

                                      Cocktails:

                                      I had three cocktails! I forget the names and they are not on the website menu but I will try and describe them.

                                      First the ladyboy. I liked it but not as much as the other ones I tried. Made with vodka, a blue flower liquor. It was refreshing but not my favorite.

                                      I don't remember the name of the second one I tried. It was made with whiskey. I just don't like whiskey. My husband who loves whiskey got one. I tried his and liked it so much I ordered one for myself. The flavor of the whiskey was somehow transformed into something different. One of the best cocktails I remember ever drinking. It was the last cocktail on the menu. Made with whiskey, vermouth, tamarind and spices.

                                      When we were chatting with Melanie we got onto the topic of Sherries and she recommended their sherry based cocktail. I tried it and it was excellent.

                                      The food:

                                      Pickles. Pickled carrots, radish, turnips and cucumber. Very simply presented and not very spiced. A good way to start the meal. A bit more spice might have elevated it a bit more but it was enjoyable.

                                      Mushroom Hor Mok. The flavor profile reminded me of "mud fish", one of my favorite dishes from Ran Kanom Thai, the takeout place in Richmond. I loved this dish and highly recommend it. The custard was creamy and bursting with Thai flavors.

                                      Charred baby grilled octopus. This dish was very good. I have never had octopus in a Thai context and was very curious to try this. I loved the flavors. My only complaint is that the octopus was a bit too chewy. If the octopus had been slightly more tender and slightly more charred it would have been a phenomenal dish.

                                      Green curry rabbit. Rabbit can be tricky to get right. The last time I had Rabbit in Thai food was at Lers Ros and it was dry and disappointing. This rabbit was tender, moist and succulent. There also were rabbit meatballs that similarly were moist and tender. It was worth ordering the dish just for the meatballs they were so good. The curry sauce was bursting with flavor and the spices were perfect. My favorite dish of the meal and one of the best Thai curries I remember eating.

                                      Pork ribs with Turmeric rub. This was very good but ours wasn't as falling off the bone tender as people have described. Very good though.

                                      Khao Soi. One of my favorite Thai dishes and difficult to find. I thought this was a very satisfying version.

                                      We didn't get dessert but Melanie allowed us to taste some of the black rice pudding she ordered. Served with salted caramel, coconut cream and toasted rice on the side. I really enjoyed this. I am not a fan of overly sweet desserts and appreciated that the rice pudding was not a sickly sugar bomb as sometimes is the case. The pudding was creamy and you could taste the nuttiness of the rice. It paired perfectly which the caramel, coconut cream and toasted rice.

                                      I really enjoyed the meal and will return.

                                2. I just had to find the place, it's best to walk up Mason to Ellis, enter the back of the Parc 55 Wyndham Hotel, super close to Westfield SF Centre Downtown. I hope to try it in March.

                                  Mon 2/24 starts lunch:
                                  Lunch 11am-2:30pm
                                  Dinner 5:30pm-11pm
                                  Late night service to begin soon

                                   
                                  1. I went for a quick lunch today just to try the Khao Soi. Today was their first day serving lunch, so I was prepared for some service hiccups, which did occur. I was seated promptly at a table at noon, and there were maybe 4 or 5 other tables occupied. After me there was a bit of a rush with several tables seated at once. My server was very pleasant, and I ordered the Khao Soi pretty quickly. Then I waited for about 30 minutes before I was served. A couple other tables who arrived later got served before me, so I assume there was an issue in the kitchen. My server checked in with me about halfway through the 30 minute wait and apologized. He also asked me if I wanted some rice while I waited. That seemed odd. Near the end of the 30 minutes I asked him to check on it again. He did and a few minutes later the dish arrived. It was delicious, very hearty and filling (and I had tofu rather than chicken). The curry broth had a great texture but was too spicy. I'd say on a 1 to 10 rating, it was about a 7.5. I'd prefer it a little less spicy, between a 5 and a 6. It's served with a delicious housemade chili oil, as well as an extra Thai chile (and lime and shallots, as well) so it seems to me that making it a little less spicy would make it appeal to a larger group of people who can add chili oil as they wish (as well as Sriracha, which was also on the table). The tofu was cut in random size pieces, some were way to big to eat in even three bites, and some were just right. The noodles in the dish were delicious and had great texture. I forgot to ask whether they were housemade or not, but they were perfect.

                                    Due to the spiciness I didn't finish the dish, and due to the long wait I had to leave quickly as I was running behind, so I didn't get a chance to try anything else. I'll definitely go back, as there were at least a half dozen other things on the dinner menu that I'd want to try, but probably wouldn't order the Khao Soi again unless it were less spicy. Note that the lunch menu has less than half the items on it compared to the dinner menu - not unexpected, but if you want the full range of the menu, you might want to target dinner instead.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: farmersdaughter

                                      i was there today at about 12:30, and also ordered the khao soi. mine came out sooner than yours, fortunately, but i was prepared for service hiccups on the first day of lunch service.

                                      i really enjoyed the khao soi, but for me the spice level before i doctored it up was fairly mild for my palate, but three little spoonfuls of chile oil did the trick. i ordered the chicken version and it was perfectly cooked. poached, i believe, with both white and dark meat if i recall correctly. the pickled mustard greens gave a nice sharp contrast to the heady, rich curry sauce, plus the fresh raw shallot slices. my lime wedge was less than juicy. the noodles were perfectly cooked for me, with just enough chew, and i love the textural contrast between the crunchy fried noodles garnishing the bowl.

                                      pim was there checking on the tables and i was very pleased to tell her how much i enjoyed my meal. i look forward to going back with a group for dinner. or just again for lunch whenever i need a khao soi fix.

                                      1. re: augustiner

                                        I may have a lower tolerance level for heat than you, but suspect there are two different curry sauces that they use, since I had tofu rather than chicken and the menu indicated that the curry was a vegetarian base and the other a chicken base.

                                        1. re: farmersdaughter

                                          i want to go back and try the veggie version for comparison. not for heat, just to see how the two stack up. i hope i didn't come across as smug, or judgemental about the spice level. i of course understand that everyone's palate is different.

                                          1. re: augustiner

                                            Oh no not at all! Actually a head to head comparison would be a good idea. I'll give it a shot and report back if the spice level differs.

                                            1. re: farmersdaughter

                                              if you have cooked with dou fu vs. chicken or pork with very similar spicing, you'd probably notice how the meat and meat broth changes how your palate deciphers the spicing, relative to the fairly neutral dou fu. (fat tends to help buffer heat, among other things). the chef might also use less salt/salty condiment (many variations of course in Asian foods, some with fermented fish or shrimp) in one compared to the other.

                                    2. been excited to try out this fantastic sounding menu and was able to stop by last night for dinner. about 70% full at 7pm so we were able to walk in and get seated right away.

                                      we got several drinks: the ladyboy collins and two other drinks (had hoped the drinks menu was posted on the website as i forgot the names of the other two). found them all to be a tad on the sweet side, but flavors were for the most part inventive although i found the ladyboy to be a bit one dimensional. prefer the trick dog drinks overall.

                                      food highlights were the duck egg salad, chili jam clams (couldn't find any traces of pork belly though) and khao soi gai. the homemade chili jam, a nicely balanced sweet and not too spicy sauce, were prominent in both the salad and clams and paired well with complimentary white or brown rice. i found the khao soi curry mild as well and needed to use a couple spoonfuls of the chili oil to kick the heat levels up to my liking. the dark meat chicken was very flavorful, crispy noodles was a perfect contrast to the al dente egg noodles (reminded me a bit of some ramen noodles actually), and the pickled mustard greens and lime wedge served on the side rounded out the dish nicely. i finished wishing there were more noodles to lap up the remaining broth!

                                      we also ordered the kua kling ribs (dry fried pork ribs) and khao mun gai (which to me is the thai version of hainan chicken rice). the ribs were beyond the spicy tolerance levels for all of us and we couldn't finish. this was surprising as i have not found a thai dish in the city until now that was too spicy for me. we also found the ribs to be overfried to the point where the meat was too dry and a bit tough. promising dish but didn't work for us in the execution. the rice that came with the khao mun gai was superb - perfect fatty mouth feel with great chicken flavor and pim's secret sauce was a perfect compliment for dipping the chicken and cucumber slices. the chicken was breast meat which we also found to be too dry, but perhaps that's the singaporean in me talking who thinks that hainan chicken rice sets a very high bar for all other chicken/rice dishes. wish we had the option of requesting dark meat for this dish. pim mentioned that they were buying whole chickens so for now are using the dark meat in the khao soi and white meat in the khao mun.

                                      overall great addition to the neighborhood. agree with others' comments that the price point for serving sizes are a bit high. looking forward to trying the other dishes on the menu, particularly the hot wings and the pork belly with rice noodles.

                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                      1. I had a fantastic lunch at Kin Khao on Friday. I haven't been so excited about a new restaurant for some time. I wanted to order everything on the menu, but some how managed to employ a bit of self-restraint and went for the following dishes:

                                        -Yum Kai Dao: runny-yolk deep fried duck egg “salad”, chilli jam dressing, peanuts, shallots, mint, cilantro, cucumber
                                        -Khao Soi Gai: Northern-style chicken curry broth, egg noodles, pickled mustard greens, and spicy chili oil (on the side.)
                                        -Yum Yai Salad: raw, cooked, and tempura-fried seasonal vegetables, not-so-spicy chilli jam dressing
                                        -Black rice pudding dessert

                                        Everything was excellent and I honestly can't wait to get back and try more of the menu. San Francisco is a tastier city thanks to Pim and her talented team!

                                         
                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: CACulinary

                                          Best dish of the meal was Khao Soi Gai.

                                          1. re: CACulinary

                                            Yum Kai Dao

                                             
                                            1. re: CACulinary

                                              Yum Yai Salad and Khao Soi Gai

                                               
                                               
                                            2. I tried Kin Khao, and thought it was good.

                                              The menu is exciting, and I was interested in trying nearly everything. I also felt confident that there wouldn't be any huge "misses" on the menu, which is definitely not the case at most Thai restaurants I go to.

                                              Khao Tung Na Tun (pictured) was served w/ square rice cakes. I liked this a lot. It's described as a sweet & savory pork+shrimp+peanut dip. Sort of pate-like in texture, except for the crunchy peanuts.

                                              I was much less impressed w/ the Yum Yai salad (also pictured). I felt it was mostly just greens, and the shaved and tempura veggies sort of got lost. The chili jam dressing felt a bit one-dimensional, and not all that exciting.

                                              That same jam was on the clams. The clams themselves were clearly high quality, really plump, and not overcooked. We wished there was more sauce though. The jam worked better here, but I would have preferred a bit more of a broth to go with it.

                                              Finally, the khao soi. The curry blend tasted a bit different than other versions I've had, but I liked it. I couldn't quite pinpoint the difference, but I think it was just the proportions of spices. Noodles were indeed ramen like, and the crispy noodles stayed crispy. I wasn't too impressed with the condiment tray: dried-out lime, tiny serving of pickled veggies (although granted, I didn't ask for any more of either). But the overall dish tasted good. The chicken was served shredded, which is different than what I'm used to with this dish. My ideal would be a drumstick on the bone, which isn't common in SF either. For me, the dish wasn't any better than the version at Amphawa Thai Noodle on Geary, where it's about 1/2 the price.

                                              The dessert of black rice pudding was nice because it wasn't too sweet. It tasted like something I'd eat at a friend's dinner party—homey, comforting, served w/ various add-ins on the side. It was unlike most restaurant desserts I've had, and for me this was a good thing.

                                              This was a good amount of food for two people—we ate everything, but we left quite full. With one non-alcoholic drink, our total bill was $68 before tip. This is steep considering we drank no alcohol.

                                              Service was excellent, ambiance was nice, and I think this place will be successful. I'd consider returning, though due to the prices, I probably wouldn't rush back.

                                               
                                               
                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Dave MP

                                                Thanks for sharing the picture of "Khao Tung Na Tun". Everyone in my party enjoyed it the most too, but unfortunately, since that was the first thing we ate, we had really high expectations for the rest of the meal and were a little disappointed.

                                                1. re: Dave MP

                                                  Tasting Table just published the recipe for Khao Tung Na Tun.

                                                  http://www.tastingtable.com/entry_det...

                                                  1. re: david kaplan

                                                    Nice find! Looks like same tastes but from the picture and recipe, this seems to be a sauce adaptation? The custard-like texture impressed me the most. I guess this gives me reason to return to Kin Khao!

                                                    1. re: tofuflower

                                                      I haven't eaten at Kin Khao yet, nor have I tried making the recipe. But I hope to fix both of those omissions soon.

                                                2. Lunch hours axed, but they will close late:

                                                  http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: baron45

                                                    So sad to hear that Kin Khao won't be open for lunch anymore. I was planning on slowly tackling their entire menu one lunch at a time.

                                                    I guess being closed late is good...except Union Square is probably the last place I would be if I'm out late at night. You win some, you lose some. Thanks for the update!

                                                  2. Love the cocktail program. Tried Kem Kon (my fave), Priew Wan Sour, Tom Yum (not the soup), Rasa Umami and all had the wonderful balance that makes it tempting to order yet another. You won't find these anywhere else so it's worth a visit just to try the drinks. We had a slew of drinks the next night at Trick Dog (overall, more alcohol forward) but these were more memorable and craveable for me. The food had bold flavors to match but I was surprised that the heat levels were on the lower end, I daresay mild.

                                                    1. Finally got to go for dinner. The Khun Yai’s Green Curry with Rabbit is some of the best rabbit I've had in California and the curry was really good. I want the recipe for the rabbit meatballs. I found the portion of meat to be plenty and I took half the dish home. I seriously will go back just for that even if it's 22 dollars.

                                                      We had an octopus dish that was really disappointing because the octopus was very chewy and rubbery. I hope it's not a regular dish or they work on how they cook the octopus. The French Spouse found the chili acidic sauce with it too hot for their palate but they tend to not do heat as much as I do. I found it strong but manageable.

                                                      We also had the Khao Soi with Tofu $15 which was good portion for one person. It didn't suffer at all from having a veggie broth.

                                                      We started with the Yum Kai Dao which I've always liked in all it's personal variations and this was great with lots of flavour.

                                                      I liked that the rice and sparkling and still water is free. We also got the tamarind water, 2 "thai ice teas" and one thai ice coffee. They have a developed cocktail menu and the drinks looked good as did the cool boys behind the bar.

                                                      Service for us was great. Our server knew the menu, was able to make suggestions and checked in. It's was 2/3 full but there was a large table that I think got everything on the menu and it looked so good. Pim was in the house and brought out a dish and was totally on top of her staff in a good way.

                                                      We did spend a 100 dollars something I haven't done at a Thai place in SF but have done at places in Sydney and in resorts in South East Asia.

                                                      It probably wouldn't become our regular weekly Thai place but I am going back for the rabbit and to try a few of the dishes we saw other tables having.

                                                      It's wheelchair accessible (lift on the outside corner stairs and through the lobby). Decor was modern and upscale but minimal and tasteful. Noise was loud but there were large parties and it's a social place. Lighting was excellent.

                                                      next day-I ate the rabbit and then let the curry soak into the rice (that they also gave me to take home at their suggestion) It was the best breakfast even cold.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: tjinsf

                                                        Agree about the rabbit meatballs and wanting the recipe! I actually don't even like eating rabbit that much (have a pet rabbit), but the meatballs converted me because they were that tasty.

                                                        I think the green curry could have used more depth though... prefer House of Thai (old Thai House Express on Larkin).

                                                      2. Molly Gore, in her review of Kin Khao, seems to be putting forward a very odd notion of what "authentic" means.

                                                        "Because Kin Khao is different, it feels more authentic than most Thai restaurants. But really, Kin Khao is what happens when authentic Thai influence meets the hands of a Manresa chef. The food is bound up in polished technique and fancy whims, which, in view of where San Francisco is right now, might be the most authentic expression of Thai you’ll find around. Happily, it’s very easy to love."

                                                        http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisc...

                                                        23 Replies
                                                        1. re: soupçon

                                                          More like overusing the word to the point that it means nothing.

                                                          1. re: soupçon

                                                            Yes, I agree with Robert completely. What exactly is "authentic Thai influence" anyway? How do I make my influences more authentic? Since my Korean immigrant mother taught me how to cook, do I exhibit "authentic Korean influence" every time I throw a burger on the grill? Or is there a certificate of authenticity that someone has to sign, like when you buy those Franklin Mint coins?

                                                            1. re: soupçon

                                                              Yes "authentic" is overused; but I see their point. Pim is not just from Thailand, but was a renowned home cook long before the Chez-Pim blog. So if dunstable's Korean-born mother is an avid cook, She might represent what the same journalist would label authentic Korean influence.

                                                              1. re: eatzalot

                                                                It's more the prose I have a problem with. She seems to be saying this, or at least this is how the sentences in that paragraph can be parsed:

                                                                1: It feels like authentic Thai.
                                                                2. "But really," it's something else...
                                                                3. ..."the most authentic expression of Thai" food.

                                                                Um, what?

                                                                This is why I don't spend much time criticizing Bauer's prose. He may as well be Oscar Wilde compared to some other people in the field.

                                                                1. re: dunstable

                                                                  I think the three things she's trying to say with the three occurrences of "authentic" in the closing paragraph are (1) Techamuanvivit is creating flavors to please her own Thai-from-Thailand palate, (2) the kitchen uses Manresa-style techniques and creativity, and (3) that combination is very representative of what's going on in San Francisco these days.

                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                    Andrew Zimmern, who dined at Kin Khao last night, seemed to be trying to say the same thing on Twitter with his "a major league statement about authentic personal Thai cuisine."

                                                                    https://twitter.com/andrewzimmern/sta...

                                                                    People seem to want to dance around the word "authentic," which Pim herself seemed to eschew in her mission statement (expanded from the quote that started this thread):

                                                                    “I want to respect the integrity of what each dish is supposed to be. We can get into the authenticity of a Thai restaurant, but what does that mean?” she says. “I really just want to cook the food that is true to what I grew up eating, in a more 21st century way and working with ingredients we can get here.”

                                                                    1. re: soupçon

                                                                      Totally agree that "authentic" is over used and abused, but the word actually has a meaning, and to paraphrase a certain Supreme Court justice, I know it when I see it.

                                                                      And, I really think it is a very important word, as what so many of us are looking for on CH are places that climb above the common and the common denominator. One hell of a good way to identify such places are when the owners show more interest in being true to the origins than to "American tastes", "California Sensibilities", "fusion", or whatever euphemism is used to indicate the focus is on attracting local customers.

                                                                      What places like Lotus, Jitlada, Lers Ros demonstrate is that you can focus on the original, the authentic, and the customers will come, in droves.

                                                                      I can understand that Pim wanted to finesse this argument with "but what does that mean", but I can't think of a better definition for "authentic" than "food that is true to what I grew up eating [in Thailand]". Of course there are ingredients impossible to get here.

                                                                      Wherever I have travelled it is always enlightening and fun to find places that are cooking traditional dishes in "a more 21st century way". Any great vibrant cuisine, like Thai or Chinese or French or Italian or Japanese or... is still evolving and great chefs are bringing new ideas to the old culture.

                                                                      Singapore has had several such places (e.g. Sam Leong's departed Jade and his newer, less successful (IMO) Forest, and the new Pidgin Restaurant and Bar (with its foie gras in rojak sauce - talk about traditional and modern! ...), and the truffled XLBs at Din Tai Fong in Taipei!

                                                                      So, I think what Pim is doing is as "authentic" as it gets.

                                                                      And BTW, i think it is nonsense to say that she is using "Manresa-style techniques". She and her skilled chef are merging modern and traditional techniques, while staying within the Thai repertoire.

                                                                      My bottom line is that we need to fight for authentic around here and point out when the word is used as a marketing cover for things that are not authentic.

                                                                      1. re: Thomas Nash

                                                                        I agree.

                                                                        Maybe when they ask "what spice level?" I can answer: "Authentic". I don't want high spice, I want the right spice, and if that blows my face off, my problem.

                                                                        No one in thailand ever asked me how hot.

                                                                        1. re: bbulkow

                                                                          Yes! The right spice.

                                                                          (Also, a question: do they do this "choice of proteins" thing in Thailand -- as is now common in newer Bay Area "Thai" restaurants -- with famous stews like Massaman curry? I don't remember that practice even in the Bay Area during the original wave of Thai restaurants 30+ years ago. Which also usually had Thai owners and cooks, unlike many today.)

                                                                          1. re: eatzalot

                                                                            Choice of protein is classic dumbed down catering to every possible real and imagined, necessary and narcissistic, dietary restriction and the stream of uninformed requests to "do it my way" that overwhelm the restaurants. From what I understand, anything but beef with a Massaman curry is a travesty.

                                                                            When "exotic" cuisines like Thai and Sichuan first hit the US, the restaurants were as authentic as they could be with available ingredients. Then they were mowed down by their felt need to market to the mall masses. Before you knew it, all you could get was an American version, General Tso and the like, and sugar.

                                                                            Sigh. So let's all keep fighting for the real deal. It is always better, in my experience.

                                                                            1. re: Thomas Nash

                                                                              I don't think Khan Toke, the first Thai restaurant in SF, ever served food that was Thai-spicy to non-Thai customers.

                                                                            2. re: eatzalot

                                                                              Massaman with other proteins? That's crazy talk, who is doing that?

                                                                              1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                I won't name names here, but I threw the Massaman example out as emblematic of that whole choice-of-proteins thing. From the responses, I'm gathering that the answer to my question was no, they don't customarily do "choice of proteins" in Bangkok even now.

                                                                                While I too badly dislike that Bay-Area trend (among other things, it means a traditionally long-simmered stew must be faked up for rapid assembly to order, therefore the flavors never infuse and concert), I see the business reason. Today's many strip-mall Thai restaurants (with the often non-Thai owners and cooks) do major trade with customers who just order a few things (counterparts of General Tso's chicken in Chinese restaurants), and the choice-of-heats, choice-of proteins deal likely helps the restaurants survive.

                                                                                Still, one such restaurant I know showed a touch of principles with a menu footnote to the effect that not all dishes can be altered to every customer whim.

                                                                                1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                  While I agree that I don't like the protein choice option thing, One thing I would add is that there is a tendency of people on CH to make it appear that in places like Thailand and Italy people follow very strict strict rules about their cuisine when in reality nothing is further from the truth. Like anywhere else people experiment and I have seen Massamam chicken in Bangkok.

                                                                                  1. re: Ridge

                                                                                    Thanks Ridge, that's what I was asking about above.

                                                                                    1. re: Ridge

                                                                                      Giving people a choice of proteins with a choice of sauces is pretty much the opposite of experimentation. It's the chef's abdication of any point of view.

                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                        I fully agree. I was just responding to what I see as lots of CH posters in many different discussions asserting that in places like Thailand, China, Italy etc. chefs are very dogmatic and strictly follow rules. In this case you can't possibly get Massamam chicken in Thailand but if you read CH there are lots of examples of this kind of thinking.

                                                                                        1. re: Ridge

                                                                                          To be fair, some cookbook authors do the same thing. Escoffier went on about the one "correct" way to handle all sorts of techniques (and imperiously ruled, in passing, that real Indian curries were "not to European tastes"). Fuchsia Dunlup in her generally excellent Sichuanese cookbook lapsed occasionally into One-True-Way dogma, contradicted by other sources from China.

                                                                                          1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                            The one true technique mentality still exists in Lyon, according to what Bill Buford said in a recent interview about his experiences cooking in restaurants there. Obviously they're very open to using that technique inventively.

                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                              Oh yes, and several friends who are CCA graduates share common memories of being chef-trained that way even in San Francisco (by certain instructors especially). So it's hardly limited to Chowhound individuals.

                                                                                          2. re: Ridge

                                                                                            Mussaman chicken is as traditional as beef so that's not evidence that Thais are open to experimentation, though from reading Andy Ricker's book I get the impression they are.

                                                                                            Some cultures are more tied to tradition / less open to invention than others. Many Italians are very conservative about their regional cusines and intolerant of experimentation in the kitchen. Massimo Bottura had a tougher time getting established in Modena than he probably would have in Paris, New York, or Spain.

                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                              Robert,
                                                                                              I thought the same thing about Italian cuisine. But I just was in Italy (for the first time since 1988) and ate only at traditional Italian restaurants in Verona, Venice and Rome and at an Italian friends home. I was blown away by how much experimentation and use of non-Italian ingredients was going on. Use of things like ginger, lemongrass, coconut and vanilla (Italian anchovies served with vanilla butter-a revelation) in traditional Italian cuisine-and it was all delicious. And my Italian friend made a very Spanish influenced meal.

                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                Robert, you prompted a visit to the bible, David Thompson's "Thai Food." To my surprise he describes how to cook a chicken Mussaman curry, apparently Persian in origin hundreds of years ago, as well as a very different, southern Thai, presumably Muslim influenced, beef version. The later is what I mistakenly thought was unique. Never seen anything like his chicken Mussaman recipe in the US. Duck is also a possibility apparently.

                                                                                                What is important here is that each is an entirely different recipe, carefully catering to ingredients and balance. No way would one "sauce" be thrown over variable "protein" options in real Thai kitchens.

                                                                    2. finally got a chance to eat here. At the table next to me was A. Zimmerman and Chris Consentino who were joined by friends and moved to a bigger table (which they needed). I was going for respecting their privacy - but since AZ tweeted a lot about his dinner......BTW Pim wasn't there (I ate early), but she must have arrived later and AZ has posted a nice pic with her.
                                                                      Anyway, my take - the salad is amazing - exceptionally fresh and varied (and beautiful) veg, the lightest, non greasy fried bits of veg makes great contrast and I LOVED that it was not drowned in dressing (although I got mine on the side it is clear from the description that even if I hadn't it would have been fine). And I think it is genius to use the chili "jam" as a dressing!
                                                                      Hor Mok (mushroom) is better tasting and balanced than what I've had in Thailand, but a different consistency and here served with rice crackers as a spead - lots of fun.
                                                                      Had to try the rabbit after so many rave reviews. Really good (but it has gone up from $22 to $24) - it is a HUGE serving and I wish they had an option for a smaller size since I wanted to try everything and had I not taken a lot home I wouldn't even have been able to finish this one dish. AZ - mentioned it had salted eggs?, but what I saw (and ate) were thai egglplants.
                                                                      Service was friendly and knowledgeable. Appreciate no nonsense - not charging for water or rice (plus a choice of white or brown!) and not adding SF "surcharge" as a separate item.

                                                                      1. Tremendous guilt in not reporting on a wonderful meal 3 of us had several weeks ago at Kin Khao. (Things have been busy around here.)

                                                                        I have been aware of (only) 3 places in the whole USA serving authentic Thai food. Now there are 4, as Kin Khao definitely joins the others, all excellent, Lotus in Las Vegas, Jitlada in LA, and the Lers Ros places in SF. Kin Khao focusses on a much smaller menu compared to the others which have multi page lists, but that is not a bad thing as the Kin Khao choices are all excellent and promise (I hope) to change with the season. For comparison purposes, last week, we also went to the Lers Ros branch in the Mission (on 16th), which as far as I can tell maintains the standards of the original and Hayes St branches.

                                                                        Here’s what we had at Kin Khao (with the menu’s description).

                                                                        Mushroom Hor Mok (curry mousse in-a-jar with a mix of wild and cultivated mushrooms from Connie Green served with crisp rice cakes). Delicious curry with mushrooms, complex and interesting. Hor Mok is a preparation often used for fish wrapped and steamed in a banana leaf. I preferred this mushroom version.

                                                                        Khao Tung Na Tung (sweet & savory pork+shrimp+peanut dip served with crisp rice cakes) Even more delicious and amazing dip, which brought me back to Bangkok for a moment, as authentic as it could be. Apparently this was something Pim used to take to school in Thailand for snacks and lunch.

                                                                        These two items were excellent appetizers. I had a teeny problem in that they were both served with rice cakes, which, frankly, are boring to me. I wonder if fresh vegetables are not an authentic alternative to use for dipping, as they are for the ferocious nam phriks (so hard to get in this country).

                                                                        Kua Kling Ribs (spicy dry-fried pork ribs in southern-style turmeric curry paste, Kaffir leaves). This was absolutely amazing. I have never had it before. Ribs with a fiery hot, complex, delicious paste. Superb.

                                                                        Chilli Jam Clams (Cherrystone clams in a saucy Khun Yai’s Chilli Jam+Thai basil broth.). Also amazing, and far more interesting than one of my favorite dishes, the clams, at Lers Ros. Very sophisticated and deep sauce, and I applaud using the larger Cherrystone clams.

                                                                        Khun Yai’s Green Curry with Rabbit (Kiew Wan curry paste, rabbit loin & saddle, rabbit meatballs, Thai Apple eggplants, Thai basil, Bird’s Eye chilli). A fine green curry, and the rabbit was as good as it gets, but I don’t ever feel compelled to order rabbit and this dish will not change that in future visits. Certainly perfectly prepared, but I am hoping to see some alternative curries in the future.

                                                                        Pim was present and is clearly very involved with making sure all her customers are pleased. Service was good, though not as family as as at Lers Ros. I am already feeling the urge to go back to Kin Khao.

                                                                        At Lers Ros, we also had the clams. There they are little necks, which are far more common on West Coast menus. As usual the basil sauce was wonderful, but simply nowhere as wonderful as the Chilli Jam Clams at Kin Khao. We also had the pork belly, excellent as usual, but we noticed how similar that sauce is to the one on the clams. So the combination was not good menu selection on our part. The duck larb at Lers Ros was perfect and interesting as usual, and a great reason to go back, particularly because 16th Street is very convenient for us, and the prices are more every day than Kin Khao.

                                                                        All in all, what a delight to have two such first class authentic Thai places in San Francisco. Now, why don’t we have at least one first class Indian or French in SF, but those are complaints for another day.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Thomas Nash

                                                                          Thanks for a detailed and evocative report!

                                                                          I happened to hear Ruth Reichl interviewed briefly on KCBS a couple of days ago (part of the book tour for her new novel). Asked for comments on SF restaurants today, she mentioned trying a few recently and being particularly impressed at Kin Khao.

                                                                          1. re: eatzalot

                                                                            If you scroll down a bit you'll see her mention and pic of Khin Khao: http://www.ruthreichl.com/2014/05/a-f...

                                                                          2. re: Thomas Nash

                                                                            Good thing you said that you have been aware of, and not that there were only three places in the whole USA serving authentic Thai, otherwise some people down here in L.A. Thai Town may have some words with you. ;-)

                                                                            I really enjoyed my meal at Kin Khao (my report: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9775...), and I'm glad to experience a more refined authentic Thai experience. For a similar authentic experience, but more at a street food level, Night+Market in L.A. is great!

                                                                            If you haven't had Thai Boat noodles at Zen Yai, I really enjoyed the bowl I had there this past week. Comparing it to Sapp and Pa Ord in L.A., Zen Yai is definitely authentic and I actually preferred it over the two Thai Boat heavyweights in L.A.

                                                                            1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                              Yes, I chose my words carefully... and realize that there are probably other places in Thai Town that have followed (or maybe even preceded) Jitlada's lead into more interesting, authentic, food than what is typical in American Thai restaurants. Maybe I should have said there are only 3 locations (of which I am aware) in the USA where you can get...

                                                                              Looking forward to trying Night+Market next time I have some time down in LA and am not drooling over the choices in the San Gabriel Valley.